A National Academy has been set up for elite young Scottish athletes.
The sport’s governing in Scotland want to ensure current and future generations of track and field competitors have the best possible chance of fulfilling their talent.
Medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 and increased representation with Great Britain are among the goals for the project launched yesterday by scottishathletics.
So far, 31 athletes and their coaches have been inducted into the programme which has expanded from a pilot Youth Academy over the past couple of years, which focussed only on Scotland’s elite 16 and 17 year-olds.
Among them are Fife quartet Anna Gordon, Ewan Dyer (both Pitreavie AC), Owen Miller (Dunfermline T&F) and Aidan Thompson (Central AC).
Cameron Tindle, the 16-year-old sprinter who lined up for Scotland against Richard Kilty at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow International in January, is included as is Mhairi Hendry, who recently broke a Scottish under-20 indoor record at 800m held by Laura Muir.
Rodger Harkins, who guided Lee McConnell’s illustrious career prior to his appointment as Director of Coaching with scottishathletics, is excited about the National Academy project which involved athletes and coaches receiving education, physio support and competition and training camp opportunities.
Parents, as well as coaches, are being included in sessions in an effort to widen knowledge and a number of the initial intake have been at a residential camp at Tulliallan this week with training sessions at Grangemouth.
“We are delighted to confirm that scottishathletics are setting up a National Academy to further help the development of potential elite athletes,” said Harkins.
“Over the past couple of years, the Youth Academy for 16 and 17-year-olds laid the foundation for this project. It has been a really successful programme offering advice and support to hard-working young athletes, their parents and their coaches. The education this group has received has been, and will be, invaluable as they continue to progress in the sport.
“Now we feel a broader National Academy enables us to identify others worthy of this kind of support: late developers, those who may have changed events, or indeed are new to the sport in their mid-teens.
“We don’t want the right people to miss out on this kind of learning opportunity. So that’s why we are broadening the base while not indulging in any real reduction in the high performance standards we’ve sought thus far.
“This approach is totally consistent with our Performance Foundation principles to help talented Scottish athletes develop; to ‘Perform When It Counts’ and, in the future, to merit recognition by UK Athletics.”
Harkins added: “From the first year group, brought in during 2013, the likes of Euan Gillham and Emma Canning have won GB selection thus far at under-20 level and that is great credit to them and their coaches. Others have appeared for Scotland or set age group records.
‘The goal of the National Academy is to educate and prepare people that’s athletes and coaches for that kind of progress and we’re looking towards greater Scottish involvement at events such as the World Youths, Commonwealth Youth Games, and Euro under-20s and Euro 23s.”
The National Academy will be integrated into the scottishathletics performance pathway. The original project was launched in 2013 with the intention being to better support and direct young athletes, their coaches and parents as they progress towards senior status.
By widening the programme to consider performances from the summer 2014 season by older athletes, more individuals who are showing the potential to develop towards the outcomes and goals of the National Academy are now included.